For Berwick Rangers midfielder David Gold, revenge will be as fresh as it is sweet if the Borderers win next month’s Scottish Cup quarter-final clash with Hibernian, in the process earning payback for the defeat by the Easter Road side at the same stage of the competition in 1980.
While Berwick’s sense of injustice has been gently simmering for almost 35 years, it was as recently as this summer when Gold was told by then Hibs manager Terry Butcher there was no new deal on the table. Gold was one of several victims, Butcher included, of Hibs’ relegation.
In Gold’s case, though, it had to hurt more after 13 years at the club where he had made so many friends. The 21-year-old watched several of them break into the first-team reckoning. That opportunity never came for Gold, who had spells out on loan at Queen’s Park and Cowdenbeath last season.
While he concedes he had a sense of what was coming, he still felt the sting of rejection when it came. He admitted he will be doubly motivated when the televised clash with Hibs comes along on 8 March. Gold is thrilled that he now has the chance to sample playing in a game at Easter Road for the first time. It just won’t be quite as he had imagined it over the years he spent at the club.
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS
“I never thought growing up I would make my debut at Easter Road as an opposition player, but here we go,” he said. “I am looking forward to it. I feel as if I have something to prove to myself more than anything.”
Gold was speaking after helping Berwick secure their chance to play Hibs with a 1-0 win over Spartans in their fifth round replay on Tuesday night. He glowed with extra elation following his exertions on the pitch and given his previous ties to the Easter Road club. As ever in such cases, Hibs supporters will be wary of someone returning with a point to prove.
“My confidence took a real knock,” he said. “I questioned myself over and over. But I have a good family and they looked after me. They told me I had worked hard to get to where I was and not to give up on it, to just go for it. It was hard to take to start with but I have always believed in myself. I always thought I was good enough for Hibs but I was a wee but unlucky not to get the chance.
“It was Terry Butcher who decided to let me go,” he added. “There were a few boys who were let go the day after the Hamilton [play-off] game. The club didn’t really know what was going to happen in the summer and the budget had to be cut. So I was just called in and told that was it. If the result had gone better then I might have still had a future at Hibs. I’ll never know. To be honest I was kind of expecting it at the time.”
He keeps in touch with many of his former team-mates, particularly Jordon Forster, and there is a clear sense of what-might-have-been as he contemplates the Hibs he left behind. Alan Stubbs has proved willing to support young players and has instilled a way of playing that Gold clearly admires. “They’re flying at the moment,” he said. “All the boys I talk to seem to enjoy the regime under Alan Stubbs. You can see that with some of their results.” But he also knows that the Scottish Cup tends to be Hibs’ Achilles’ heel. He was present in the stands when they lost at home to lower division opposition last season. “That shows you exactly what can happen,” he said. “Raith Rovers worked hard that day and probably deserved the win. So I don’t see why we can’t go there and work hard as a team and try and get the win.”
The return of Colin Cameron, Gold’s player-manager at Berwick, will also be viewed with a sense of dread by the home fans. The former Hearts player is relishing the chance to put one over Hibs again and, at 42-year-old, is experienced enough to know what is required.
Although he has known some good times in Edinburgh derbies at Easter Road, there were, he admitted, “some bad memories too”. Cameron played the full game against Spartans on Tuesday and smiled a knowing smile when asked if he will feature against Hibs. No doubt I will get a wee bit of stick,” he said. “But I have broad shoulders. I am old enough and wise enough. I would rather they give it to me and leave the rest of the players alone to go out and enjoy it.”